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Peapod launches national service

Webvan has to be quiet, but rival Peapod is talking. Peapod, Inc. (Nasdaq: PPOD) said Monday it was rolling out a national on-line grocery service to be called "Peapod Packages."

Shares closed Friday at 10, after enjoying a boost since the company announced it had named Bill Malloy, an executive vice president for AT&T's (NYSE: T) wireless business, as president and chief executive officer in late September.

Peopod competes with online grocer Webvan, which has delayed its IPO after coming under scrutiny for some comments during its quiet period.

The new service makes Peapod available to people in the 48 contiguous states beyond the company's previous eight regional markets.

"We have become the biggest Internet grocer even though we've only reached 5 percent of the U.S. population with our local delivery service," said Malloy, adding that Peopod is 5 times bigger than any other Internet grocer.

Peapod Packages include pre-designed or custom made care packages and gift baskets. The Peapod Packages service is designed to complement Peapod's local grocery-delivery service, is designed to replace consumers' routine grocery-store visits.